They Stole My Batman

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24 Responses

  1. LeeEsq says:

    The Batman of Batman:The Animated Series is the best because he is dark but not too dark. With the more grittier incarnations of Batman you find in the later comics and movies, you can’t quite believe he has a strict do not kill rule he adheres to. The Adam West version was too light-hearted to take that seriously. Batman of the Animated Series is serious but light enough where you can see him taking the do not kill rule as a cardinal value.Report

  2. Pinky says:

    I liked both TAS and the Nolan films. The Batman of my childhood was Adam West, so there’s a chance I’ve just been ground down and gotten used to the many retellings of the story. Or maybe I was never too strongly wedded to “my” Batman, because it was a pretty lousy show.

    But I’m more comfortable with reinventions of Batman than I am with those of probably any other superhero. It’s part of his story that he’s hard to define. He varies in shades of darkness, and even when he’s basically good, he exists in a surreal world of horrors. You can’t (easily) tell a Superman story in shades of gray; he’s got to be either white or black. With Batman, you’ve always got an ostensible hero who looks like a villain, and is cloaked in mystery. And is also somewhere between brilliant and devious.

    It’s been a long time since I’ve seen the animated series, but I remember there was one episode that dealt with the different Batman legends. It was really well done. I’m sure you remember it better than I do. It didn’t try to define which Batman was real, and that’s a position I’m ok with.Report

  3. Jaybird says:

    The Animated Batman is absolutely delightful and is also my favorite… but it feels like it comes from a very particular moment in time: after the Cold War ended, before the Forever War started.

    I like what Frank Miller had to say about Batman:

    “There are 50 different ways to do Batman and they all work. In fact, I’ve probably done about ten of them. I was once asked if I felt like I’d been handed a Ming vase” when he first took on the character. “I said no, it’s more like an unbreakable diamond. I could smash it against the wall or ceiling without hurting it. It’s just a matter of finding a facet no one’s used before.”‘

    Nolan’s Batman wasn’t about Batman, really, it was about 9/11. It was an attempt to process what happened in the wake of what happened.

    I want to go back to the Animated Batman too. I prefer that moral narrative.Report

    • Stillwater in reply to Jaybird says:

      Nolan’s Batman wasn’t about Batman, really, it was about 9/11. It was an attempt to process what happened in the wake of what happened.

      IIRC and FWIW, Jonathon Nolan created the TV show Person of Interest as well as the HBO show Westworld, but he also co-wrote, with his brother Christopher, the Dark Knight scripts.Report

      • Jaybird in reply to Stillwater says:

        Person of Interest is one of my favorite shows. I recommend it to anybody and everybody.

        It’s also a Batman story. They just split Bruce Wayne off from Batman and make him two different people.

        (They explore a lot of the same themes in the show and in the Batmovies too…)Report

        • Stillwater in reply to Jaybird says:

          Re: some of the criticisms of Nolan’s dark, cynical Batman in the OP, I thought about a line John Reese delivered early in the show (season 1, maybe?): “Maybe there aren’t good people, maybe there are only good decisions.”* I think that line – which is cynical – captures where the Nolanses collective heads were at when making those shows/movies.

          *And then he goes on to ask the guy he *really* wants to kill to help him make a good decision. Outstanding!Report

  4. Douglas Virtue says:

    I thought I was a minority in my dislike for Nolan’s Batman. Whew. Even as a kid watching Adam West, I knew this was a campy version of the Dark Knight. TAS was so well done. The writing of course. And the animation was a throwback the the Fleisher cartoons that were ahead of it’s time.Report

  5. There are nine-and-sixty looks
    For a Batman comic book
    And every single one of them is rightReport

  6. Burt Likko says:

    It looks to me that beyond some noisiness and that one fight scene, the real complaint about Nolan is that his Batman operates in a different moral space than the TAS Batman. I take the praise of TAS’ Batman-as-redeemer, a sort of moral lifeguard, at face value.

    The Nolan Batman is a vigilante. He is ultimately aimed to buttressing the forces of law and order, not necessarily the forces of moral good. And he has made the decision to use the tools of chaos against the agents of chaos. He knows he’ll have to get his hands dirty to do this but believes it necessary. Like all vigilantes, he sees the existing civil justice system as too weak to fulfill its purpose, and so he arrogates to himself the power of violence.

    I see criticism in the OP of Batman’s decision to leave “a man” on the train to die. That man was Ra’s al-Ghul. The Nolan Batman has concluded that Ra’s al-Ghul is irredeemable, the justice system too vulnerable to his abilities (he would either bribe or escape from incarceration), and too dangerous to be left at large. I think the OP is right that Batman does not ever really seriously even consider rescuing Ra’s al-Ghul. The moral choice of redemption is framed thus: Ra’s al-Ghul is right that Gotham’s government is corrupt to its very core; his (ostensible, we may question his sincerity) solution is to destroy it utterly that something better might be created afterwards in its place. Batman sacrifices Ra’s al-Ghul that a different path towards a better, stronger Gotham might be pursued.

    There are different permutations of aspiring to advance law and order through using the methods of chaos and evil in the second movie (which I agree had a ham-fisted ending) and the third (whose true moral hero was Catwoman, who was both redeemed and then became a redeemer herself, offering Batman love as an escape route from the unsustainable life of the vigilante).

    What I’m saying is that you’re looking to the Nolan films to fulfill the same role as the TAS Batman did. Vigilante stories are inherently about flirting with fascism, the abrogation of due process. They’re inherently about a morally murky space between ends and means. So to appreciate them fully, you need to be comfortable with a resting point to the story that is gray rather than black or white.Report

    • DensityDuck in reply to Burt Likko says:

      Yes, Nolan’s Batman is a lot more like Frank Miller’s “Dark Knight Returns” Batman than “TAS” Batman.Report

    • Pinky in reply to Burt Likko says:

      I hate to be a nit-picker. But fascism uses fear within the context of populism, and lone vigilantes operate as elitists, whatever their personal status. Evil Batman isn’t a fascist; he’s a terrorist. Also, I love nit-picking. I love it so much that I’m compelled to point out that my claim to hate nit-picking is false.Report

    • Oscar Gordon in reply to Burt Likko says:

      Since we are all observers of Batman, you can think of the different ‘takes’ as merely observer perspectives. For the mugger who just got a knuckle sandwich from Batman, he’s a thuggish vigilante. For the mugging victim who just got saved, perhaps he’s seen as the savior or redeemer. But because Batman is human, and mysterious, he can be seen in so very many different ways.

      Whereas Superman is almost always seen as a Demigod.Report

      • Jaybird in reply to Oscar Gordon says:

        Occasionally, there’s a Batman story told from the perspective of a low-level person. A henchman’s lackey or a kid in the projects. Their experience of Batman is that of The Little Guy and they see this formless demon capable of delivering great violence in the pursuit of preventing violence. Fear, awe, this sense of going up against a Force of Nature…

        So, too, for Superman. But those stories tend to focus on how good superman is. Sure, he’s awesome, but he also radiates… decency. Like Mister Rogers. Except he’s bulletproof.Report

  7. Silver Wolf says:

    I agree completely with you on this. How they can get these characters so wrong is amazing.

    The basic idea behind Batman should be “There, but for the grace of God, go I”. This is the reason why he always uses their names (usually their first names) when he talks to them. He is trying to reason with the person, not confront the monster.

    Superman is also just as easy. His true weakness isn’t Kryptonite, it’s the squishy people he loves and desperately tries to protect. Making him into a callous, uncaring oaf takes away his only true limitation.

    This is one of the reasons why I find the DC movies disappointing. Minor changes like costume tweaks or altered origins (like Spider-Man being bitten by genetically modified spider in stead of a radioactive one) are fine but they have to retain their cores or they are NOT Superman or Batman.Report

    • Jaybird in reply to Silver Wolf says:

      Yeah, the insight that Superman, deep down, is Clark Kent but Bruce Wayne, deep down, is Batman is an awesome insight.

      (There was an issue of Wonder Woman where the three of them held the Lasso of Truth and each said their “real name”. Superman said both Clark Kent and Kal-El. Batman said Batman.)

      When written correctly, both Batman and Superman think that the other one had disadvantages that would have crippled themselves, and when they look at themselves, they only see the advantages that the other didn’t have.

      Too many writers see them as opportunities for self-insert fanfics. (Those can be fun stories for a moment, but they’re usually forgotten the second you put the comic book down.)Report

  8. Lark says:

    {Redacted by editors}Report

  9. Yes, Nolan’s Batman is a lot more like Frank Miller’s “Dark Knight Returns” Batman than “TAS” Batman.Report

  1. March 5, 2019

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